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Ace in the Hole

Ace in the Hole(1951)

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  • Immoral, modern media man's manipulations

    • Will Fox
    • 7/4/16

    Fascinating flic, winning the Venice Film Festival's highest honor, "Ace in the Hole" is about an aggressive reporter's self-centered antics: While scrounging for stories, he stumbles onto a man trapped in an Indian ruin cave-in. The jaded journalist manipulates the "human-interest story," exploiting the victims' vulnerabilities; (bullying him, his wife and an expert mining engineer); turning a temporary tragedy into his media circus; duping the public. Milking the story daily for his journalist's personal posing, promotion, prestige and profit, the hack reporter promises political promotion to another, dishonest agent with government powers, to monopolistically control and exclude all other media. Many more, modern media manipulations ensue. One year after his highly successful, "Sunset Boulevard," directing genius Billy Wilder sets scenes perfectly for the "Ace" cast, contrasting real-people vs. hype hustling Kirk Douglas' yellow-journalism, scooping rivals with headline sensations, selling stories to the highest bidder, corrupting checkbook journalism, and other truth-distorting, tabloid techniques. How far will the media go for self-promotion and money-grubbing? Follow the money. Opportunist's opprobrium occurs. Beyond being a great morality tale with a surprising twist for comeuppance, "Ace" is based on a true case. The real reporter won a nationally respected, Pulitzer Prize. This film inspires. Billy Wilder exalted, "It was the best thing I ever did." Let's highly recommended it, to everyone expressing interest in communications, media, journalism, creative writing, etc., to potential careerists, and even more importantly, to every voter, every citizen interested in understanding how and why the truth about public issues is manipulated. Many thanks to TCM and the new, complimentary service, WATCH TCM. For free, they multiply the commercial-free availability of life enhancing classics, i.e. "Ace in the Hole." One of Kirk Douglas' finest!

  • Ace in my Face

    • Hauntess A. Clichae
    • 6/10/16

    I agree with the instincts of Lewkowski's review of 9-13-11. His instincts spark my suspicions.

  • ordinary evil, brilliantly done

    • New Mexican
    • 6/10/16

    An emphatic yes to Ted in his 7/12 review. This is an accurate -- and thereby chilling -- picture of ordinary, small town small minds eager for the main chance and some excitement. The setting, the account (ok, the story) and the sheer everyday-ness are remarkable. This is what growing up out here was like, shallow, boring and devoid of much meaning. Somehow, Wilder, Sterling and Douglas make it a powerful and fascinating experience. This is -- for me -- what art, real art -- is about, a way to view the world more profoundly. This film conveys a kind of actuality without eyes dulled by familiarity or (in my case) bias and boredom. Most of the people in the film are not evil, but they are dulled, worn down, and unaware. No wonder they are so exploitable. From the combination comes a kind of tragic and deep uncaringness. This film made me understand the idea of the "banality of evil" (Hannah Arendt).

  • Ace in the Hole

    • John
    • 8/2/13

    Overall-3/5Lead Performers-3/5Supporting Cast-3/5Director-5/5Screenplay-3/5Cinematography-4/5Importance-2/5Recommendation for fans of the genre-3/5

  • ace in the hole

    • jae
    • 5/17/13

    there are so many slimy people in this movie it drips from the screen. love kirk douglas but i want to punch the dimple off his chin. i kept asking myself can humans be this bad in the face of tragedy? (maybe i am too much of an optimist) so for me the movie was a little bit unbelievable

  • Excellent

    • Christine Hoard-Barre
    • 5/3/13

    This is one of those movies that I watch whenever it's on no matter how many times I've seen it. I think it's one of Wilder's best and he's on top of his game as is the entire cast, especially Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling. Way ahead of its time.

  • Ace in the Hole

    • Dashiell Barnes
    • 7/6/12

    Wilder's then flop has since turned into a brilliant drama. Douglas & Sterling are both excellent as the film's unsympathetic leads. In today's society where advances in technology are a powerful tool for the media, the film seems more relevant today. In this film, Wilder's not afraid to insult the viewers. I give it a 4.5/5.

  • REAL reality

    • Ted
    • 7/5/12

    Films often bring us larger than life reality, either glamor or evil, technicolor glory or heroism or graciousness or tragedy in stirring words. Growing up in the Southwest, I loved movies, but I often wondered if anyone ever made a movie about the people I knew in small towns and diners and ranches. Later I saw Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore and thought, finally, that's it! But even later I saw Ace in the Hole in an art house theatre and was stunned to realize that someone had once made a movie about ordinary people behaving badly ordinarily. This is a film about the banality of evil, not on a grand scale, but on a ordinary, daily level, the kind of foolishness and thoughtlessness and excitement-seeking most Americans take for granted. This country has never experienced an invasion, definitely not on the scale that European countries have. Our evil is wasteful, petty, thoughtless and usually unintentional rather than based in survival. Why watch film about this? Because it has a riveting authenticity. The ever larger-than-life Kirk Douglas gives a believable characterization here. There are good people portrayed in this film all mixed up with the exploiters and the exploited. And the film moves, apparently slowly, but, in truth with the kind of quiet relentlessness of our Rio Grande. Every time I watch this film, I almost hold my breath, transfixed.


    • william gauslow
    • 2/24/12

    No criminals, no banks, no cash: just human (dark and selfish) behavior. How did humans got this far ?

  • Ahead of it's Time

    • frank filippi
    • 2/24/12

    Man, what a movie. Something about it just gives me the chills. How far will a reporter go to get a story? All the way. Douglas is sinister, covert, and downright dirty as the lead. But the kicker is he's likeable. I really enjoyed watching this movie for the 5th time. Will be 6 times after tonight.

  • Getting un-Brainwashed

    • Don Lewkowski
    • 9/13/11

    Why would anyone want to see Ace in the Hole twice is beyond me. Let's do some deconstructing. Question: What is the movie saying. What is it saying about America and us? Answer: America is filled with self serving evil doers and fools.Try to find a noble man or woman is this depressing work. Billy Wilder has a track record of selling Americans on how evil they are as a people. Even in Stalag 17 the America soldiers are docile fools. In that movie Holden had to demand that his character Sefton be made human by insisting a final salute to his fellow Americans.Most American are hard working honest Christian people. Billy Wilder doesn't like America and he doesn't like us. He especially doesn't like fair haired women. Why is Wilder so against our values and our beautiful women? There is a good question for Robert and Alex to answer in their next Essentials.

  • Ace In The Hole aka The Big Carnival

    • Bruce Reber
    • 9/13/11

    "Ace In The Hole" (1951) isn't one of Billy Wilder's better known films, but it's certainly one of his best. It's an unflinching, cynical look at journalism and the power of the press, and how it can be manipulated by a single reporter to serve his own agenda. Kirk Douglas gives a fine performance as sensationalist New York reporter Chuck Tatum, who while working for a small Albuquerque, NM newspaper uncovers the story of Leo Minosa, owner of a trading post who is trapped inside a cave, and the efforts to rescue him. Tatum, who's been looking for the story to get his career back on track, seizes the opportunity and turns the whole thing into a three-ring media circus, without regard for Minosa's life or the effect on his wife and parents. However, Tatum gets his comeuppance at the end when he finds out he caused Minosa's death by dragging out the rescue operation to get as much mileage out of the story as he could. The final scene sums it all up, with Tatum collapsing dead after telling his boss "I was once a $250 a week reporter, now you can have me for nothing!" "Ace In The Hole" is the precursor for later films dealing with the power of the media and those who manipulate it - think "A Face In The Crowd" (Lonesome Rhodes) and "Network" (Howard Beale).

  • Our best director

    • Mac
    • 9/4/11

    As I get older,Wilder is even more imortant to my movie viewing than ever.Big movies,with stars,with great stories,great scripts,great visuals.What more do you want from a mainstram director? And this little gem,almost off the planet for years,shines brighter in the age of Nancy Graceless at CNN,Fox and Rupert.

  • Um filme chocante

    • Sonia
    • 10/25/10

    Este filme mostra a realidade nua e crua. Chocante ver o que o ser humano capaz de fazer com o prximo sem sentir culpa ou remorso se transformando em um mostro. Todos deveriam ver este filme para nunca cometerem o mesmo erro do personagem.

  • Newsworthy film

    • Jarrod McDonald
    • 1/8/10

    When viewing this film today, I kept thinking about the story of the little girl who fell down into the well several years ago...and all the surrounding hoopla over that. I wonder if the journalists who covered that story had ever seen this movie. Some things definitely do not change in America. If a situation like this happened to tomorrow, the behaviors would probably still be the same. Maybe the reason the film wasn't initially well-received was because the main character was so unlikable. If Wilder had shaded him a bit more ambiguously, showing that he originally did have a conscience but he is so caught up in the job and surviving, that might've made the film more acceptable to mainstream audiences. But then it would've lost its punch. The best lines were spoken by Douglas' character who says that bad news is big news, and good news is no news.

  • The Big Carnival (1951)

    • Jay Higgins
    • 10/8/09

    Powerful film, extremely well acted, especially by Kirk Douglas and Jan Sterling. The story is exaggerated a bit too much to make it's point, but the film is way ahead of it's time and things certainly haven't changed. Quite a remarkable story, expertly handled by Billy Wilder.

  • Now on DVD

    • Max Brinck
    • 8/26/07

    This tile was released on Criterion DVD July 17th, 2007.

  • Great film

    • Brando4ever
    • 8/11/07

    This sensational film holds up well still today. Great performance from Kirk!

  • Harsh truth

    • Dan
    • 6/13/07

    I'll sum this rare film up briefly. It's the American way to blow up stories when the innocent is victimized and glorified to the public, were the value of a human life is at stake. Intence realism in this fine film.

  • Mirrors don't lie.

    • An honest American
    • 6/13/07

    This hard-biting drama would be the way I would answer a naive foreigner asking:"But what is America REALLY like?" The film shows how little an individual human life matters in the United States. As long as they have bread and circuses, the indifferent masses are happy to allow injustice to reign in all their critical institutions - like law and journalism - and crush the lives of pitiful innocents.

  • "Get him out of there!!!! slowly!

    • ted herman
    • 6/12/07

    This may be considered a classic film now, however, it was not well received during its original release due to its grim, caustic look at human behavior. A man is trapped in a mine shaft, and Kirk Douglas (delivering one of his most honest and hard hitting portrayals), does whatever he can to report on this disaster, while at the same time, using this as a chance to get his status back as a sensational newspaper reporter.Directed by Billy Wilder with honesty and grit, this film forces us to examine ourselves with an unflinching eye for reality.

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